Segalen's decendant continues promoting France-China ties

16:46, October 30, 2010      

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France and China "have things to talk about, things in common and values which bring them closer, which connect them," Laure Mellerio, granddaughter of French iconic Sinologist Victor Segalen told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"From my own professions and reading of what my grandfather wrote, I said basically, we are pursuing the same thing" as France and China have so much in common, said the 63-year-old CEO of the Victor Segalen Foundation.

Mellerio seemed to have inherited her ancestors a love for China, and she said she felt there were a lot of work to do in enhancing the mutual understanding between the two countries.

Victor Segalen, a French naval doctor who traveled and lived in China from 1909 to 1914, wrote a great deal about China, including his masterpiece "China - The Great Statue" and other archeological and literary works.

To set up a foundation dedicated to sinology research to promote mutual understanding between Europe and China was Segalen's unfulfilled wish, said the granddaughter, who turned his dream into reality.

"We focused this Victor Segalen foundation on observation of society. For example, we organized a forum in 2008 over the European and Chinese views on the place of man in the world," she said.

Founded in 2007, the foundation has adhered to the anthropocentric vision that put human beings at the core of the world. It also worked out an action plan covering education, sustainable development, broadcasting, cultural heritage, health, and corporate culture and entrepreneurship.

The foundation, which works to enhance dialogue and links between the two nations via cultural exchanges, is planning its next session on development of countryside, as agriculture plays an important role in both France and China, the veteran Sino-Franco friendship promoter said.

Talking about the Sino-French ties, she said that during the long history of bilateral ties, there are "both very prosperous periods and very difficult times. (We have) ups and downs ... but almost always for political reasons," she said.

To Mellerio, the cultural exchanges between the two countries have always played a positive role even when times are difficult.

"We have the idea to set up exchanges between young Europeans," she said, adding they are considering a program for French and Chinese scholars that enables them to study a year in China and another year in France.

On the upcoming visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao, she said "the visit is a point on a long road... like all French people, I'll watch him (President Hu) on television, and listen to what he says."

Victor Segalen has traveled across China. Mellerio said her grandfather was very fond of Chinese painting and had found inspiration in the traditional Chinese painting, steles and philosophers of different schools.

Segalen's second trip to China in 1913-1914 was interrupted by the First World War, but his offsprings have travelled and continued to travel across the country in search of more things the two countries can share.

From her traveling experience in China, Mellerio said she was impressed by the openness of China and perseverance of the Chinese people in face of adverse circumstances.

"I think China should sustain its cultural character and value, and don't copy the U.S. mode or European mode. China is what China is."

"In Segalen's 'Steles', there is a quote that I love, and it said 'As always one makes a long journey which is none other than a journey into one's own self,' "she said, comparing the European people's pursuit in understanding China to such a journey.



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